During a rare quiet moment on “Con-Sciolist,” midway through Don the Reader’s first full-length, Humanesque, a sample of the famous “I’m mad as hell!” speech from Network comes floating through a post-metal ether of reverberating guitars. Faint whiff of déjà vu? Maybe it’s because the post-metal band Mouth of the Architect used the same sample in “Hate and Heartache” from its most recent album, Quietly, released just three months before Humanesque. Or perhaps you recognize the sample from the title track off Not for Want of Trying by the English instru-metal band Maybeshewill, which arrived just five months prior to Humanesque.
Let’s give Don the Reader the benefit of the doubt and assume that this clustering of the Network speech is either coincidence or a poignant reflection of the tenor of our times rather than a case of metal monkey see, monkey do. The South Bay metalcore quintet’s got more blatant borrowings to account for anyway, like for instance the entire Botch catalog, which liberally endows about 45 out of Humanesque’s 52 minutes.
And we’re not talking “in the spirit of Botch,” we’re talking “unannounced bonus disc that came with the deluxe version of We Are the Romans”-level similarities. Abrasive, repetitious riffs in 5/4 and 7/8? Check “Pre-Self Deficiency” and “I Swallowed New Orleans.” Sudden excursions into spacey, more ominous but equally dissonant territory? The title track and “Makeshift Splendor” will do you just fine. Pitch-bending breakdowns and dude shrieking like he’s on fire? That’s pretty much the whole album.
Normally I’d just make a joke about how the album should be called Botchesque or how Don’s been reading the tab book for American Nervoso, but this band deserves better. These guys sound less like a band free of innovation than one that happened to come to the same conclusion as Botch did about how to make a great metalcore album. Plenty of bands have done the Botch tribute act thing and left out the essential avant-garde fire (I’m looking your way, the Minor Times and the Chariot). Don the Reader gets it: Humanesque feels combustible, dangerous and modern, decade-old sound be damned. Now as for that Network sample, I insist that this be the end of the mini-trend. I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore.